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The Shrinking Sphere

Malise Ruthven, 6 July 1995

Islamic Britain: Religion, Politics and Identity among British Muslims 
by Philip Lewis.
Tauris, 255 pp., £9.99, October 1994, 1 85043 861 7
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The Failure of Political Islam 
by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk.
Tauris, 238 pp., £14.95, October 1994, 1 85043 880 3
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... The division between the Islamists and more traditional elements, or ‘neo-fundamentalists’ as Olivier Roy calls them, is drawn most sharply on the highly emotive question of the status and rights of women. Where the Islamists argue that the Koran endowed women with full civil and religious rights and that women should participate in social and ...

Homesick Everywhere

Lawrence Rosen: Misreading Muslim Extremism, 4 August 2005

Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah 
by Olivier Roy.
Hurst, 349 pp., £16.95, November 2004, 1 85065 598 7
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The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West 
by Gilles Kepel, translated by Pascale Ghazaleh.
Harvard, 327 pp., £15.95, September 2004, 0 674 01575 4
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... or if you think they account for the London bombings, then your views are so close to those of Olivier Roy that you need read his new book only in order to confirm your opinions. If, however, you find any of them debatable you will need to work your way through his entire argument in an attempt to sort things out, a task that will have its ...

Magical Thinking about Isis

Adam Shatz, 3 December 2015

... to most studies, there is an inverse relationship between Muslim piety and attraction to jihad. As Olivier Roy, the author of several books on political Islam, recently said, ‘this is not so much the radicalisation of Islam as the Islamicisation of radicalism.’ By sending a group of French – and Belgian – citizens to massacre Parisians in their ...

I am French

Jeremy Harding, 21 January 2016

Who is Charlie? Xenophobia and the New Middle Class 
by Emmanuel Todd, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 211 pp., £16.99, September 2015, 978 1 5095 0577 7
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... a domestic phenomenon, as it is for reliable analysts of Islam and the Middle East, including Olivier Roy and – to a lesser extent – Gilles Kepel. The strength of this position is that it doesn’t exonerate government: by confining a globalised debate about the post-colonial Arab world within the boundaries of the Hexagon, it insists that the ...

‘You got up and you died’

Madeleine Schwartz: After the Bataclan, 9 June 2022

... we know that his body was found at the other end of the room. I will never forgive myself for that.Olivier:Salah Abdeslam is nothing but a little piece of scum. He makes us believe that he is a warrior. He is nothing of the sort. I saw his brother kill defenceless 20-year-old girls. I would have preferred a thousand times over if he had blown himself up like ...

Casuistries of Peace and War

Perry Anderson: The assumptions the Bush Administration and its critics share, 6 March 2003

... rather than at America itself, where it could not leave so much as a strategic pinprick. As Olivier Roy and Gilles Keppel, the two best authorities in the field of contemporary Islamism have argued, al-Qaida is the isolated remnant of a mass movement of Muslim fundamentalism, whose turn to terror is the symptom of a larger weakness and defeat ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves, 6 June 2013

The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... season in 1963 Michael Redgrave played Claudius to Peter O’Toole’s Hamlet. Apart from Olivier, the theatre’s first director, Redgrave, then aged 55, was its greatest star. Known to the public from his many film roles, and having just been named actor of the year by the Evening Standard for his Uncle Vanya at Chichester, which one critic called ...


Adam Shatz: Houellebecq submits, 9 April 2015

by Michel Houellebecq.
Flammarion, 300 pp., €21, January 2015, 978 2 08 135480 7
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... socially conservative) but it also depends on a self-defined, coherent Muslim community which, as Olivier Roy has argued, doesn’t exist. Muslims in France are a population, not a community, and they don’t vote as a bloc. Most Muslims aren’t particularly observant, and those who are practise in a variety of ways. There are also secular Muslims ...


J.L. Nelson: Heretics, 7 June 2001

The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars 
by Stephen O’Shea.
Profile, 333 pp., £7.99, May 2001, 1 86197 350 0
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The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars 1290-1329 
by René Weis.
Viking, 453 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 670 88162 7
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... lives and religious experiences is very hard indeed. In Montaillou, Village occitan (1975) Le Roy Ladurie made pioneering ‘anthropological’ use of an inquisitor’s records to put one small place under the microscope but, curiously, his primary focus (despite the subtitle of the English translation, Cathars and Catholics) was neither on the ...


Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... I like to believe, were the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton of the day, if not the Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, with knobs on. Centuries pass. La maison is up for rent. Appears out of nowhere, circa 1909, exactly as in the central London of our own day, an American Amazon, chequebook in hand. Lady named Natalie Clifford Barney by no means opposed ...

Identity Parade

Linda Colley, 25 February 1993

People and Places: Country House Donors and the National Trust 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 232 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 7195 5145 5
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The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769 
by Michael Dobson.
Oxford, 266 pp., £30, October 1992, 0 19 811233 5
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Myths of the English 
edited by Roy Porter.
Polity, 280 pp., £39.50, October 1992, 0 7456 0844 2
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Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States 
by Stephen Daniels.
Polity, 257 pp., £39.50, November 1992, 0 7456 0450 1
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... dignify his own career, puffing him as the nation’s number-one playwright – just like Lawrence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh would go on to do – as a means of representing himself as its number-one actor. He had himself painted and engraved alongside Shakespeare’s bust. And he commissioned Roubiliac to do a sculpture of Shakespeare in the guise of a ...

Head over heart for Europe

Peter Pulzer, 21 March 1991

Ever Closer Union: Britain’s Destiny in Europe 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 96 pp., £7.99, January 1991, 0 09 174908 5
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The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Pan, 226 pp., £5.99, February 1991, 9780330314367
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... I had to confess that I had never before thought of Shakespeare as a European federalist. The Olivier version, made, like the Branagh version, at a politically sensitive time, was distinctly short of eirenic themes. Not long ago we celebrated two centenaries – of the defeat of the Armada and of the Glorious Revolution. Both confirmed the popular image ...

Really Very Exhilarating

R.W. Johnson: Macmillan and the Guardsmen, 7 October 2004

The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World They Made 
by Simon Ball.
HarperCollins, 456 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 00 257110 2
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... decayed British aristocrats’, as Ball puts it. Salisbury became close to Rhodesia’s stalwart, Roy Welensky – an ex-boxer and engine-driver, an unlikely friend for a Cecil – but to Macmillan, Welensky was just ‘an emotional Lithuanian Jew’, someone to be got rid of by any means. Power, as Macmillan understood it, wasn’t a matter of morality or ...


Douglas Johnson, 20 May 1982

La Cérémonie des Adieux 
by Simone de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 559 pp., £9.25, November 1981
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Mes Années Sartre 
by Georges Michel.
Hachette, 217 pp., £6.15
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Oeuvres Romanesques 
by Jean-Paul Sartre, edited by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka.
Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 2174 pp., £22.50, January 1982
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... that gangrene was infectious stopped her doing so. But she does not hesitate to point out that Olivier Todd, who has written of his intimate relations with Sartre whilst roundly condemning Sartre’s influence, was never on such close terms with Sartre as he claimed. She says the same about Paul Victor, Sartre’s last collaborator, with whom he was ...

Heathcliff Redounding

David Trotter: Emily Brontë’s Scenes, 9 May 2024

Emily Brontë: Selected Writings 
edited by Francis O’Gorman.
Oxford, 496 pp., £95, December 2023, 978 0 19 886816 3
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... raging when he arrives to introduce himself as the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange. Laurence Olivier’s Heathcliff, back to a blazing fire, brims with disobligingness. Still, he agrees to accommodate the visitor. Lockwood petitions meekly for a cup of tea. Then things start to move quickly. Joseph, the servant, conducts him to an upstairs room, where ...

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